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Symposium "Ethiopia’s Tigray Conflict: Causes and Complications"


 East Africa Association for Research and Development DAD organized on 14th of November,2020 a symposium themed Ethiopia’s Tigray Conflict: Causes and Complications”. The symposium which was streamed by online through zoom and other social media platforms was participated by Afyare Abdi Elmi, associate professor at Qatar University, department of International Studies and Mustafa Feyruuz, the director of the Institute of Somali Studies ISOS.

Mustaf Feyruuz commenced by talking the history of the amalgamation of the current modern Ethiopian state. How contended how the modern Ethiopian state is built through a military expansion by the Amhara ethnic group between the years of 1855 and 1955, hence the other ethnicities were incorporated to the state through coercion and without their consent. Although the empire was uprooted in 1975 after a military coup but the ensued regimes failed to build a state that can absorb the grievances of the different ethnicities, contrary the same measures have been taken to oppress the angry majority.

Mr. Feyruuz underlined that much of current turmoil and upheavals goes back to the fact that historical grievances are entrenched among the subjugated societies and without acknowledgement of that history, it will be difficult for the Ethiopian leaders to establish a new Ethiopia where equality and justice prevails.

In the second session of symposium Afyare Abdi Elmi from Qatar University, in his remarks he shortly talked about the structural, political, and economical factors that are behind the conundrum of the modern Ethiopian state. He insinuated that imperial policies inherited Ethiopia a serious structural flaw, despite the regime changes but the system resisted to be changed easily. Elmi mentioned that Ethiopia state failed to embrace the multi ethnicity nature of its citizens, thus a large segment if it is not the majority are not satisfied with been an Ethiopian.

Also, he talked about the weakness of Ethiopian state in terms of institutions, although the institutions have been established in name, they are not working properly except the executive and the military which dominates the other branches of the government. Elmi remarked the triggers of the latest military standoff between the federal government and Tigrayans in the north as the power struggle and lack of confidence among the leaders of the main ethnicities surged since 2018 when Abiye Ahmed came to the helm, thus, the Tigrayan issue is part of a larger complex political environment.

In the conclusion the two speakers underlined the immediate impact of the conflict in Ethiopia in the Horn of Africa Region, which already have been suffering from a multifaceted security complication. The thousands of refugees who are fleeing from the military offensive have poured to the neighboring countries and if the fight continue there is a concern that further thousand will flee which exacerbate the humanitarian disaster in the region.

Ethiopia have been playing an active role in the war against terrorism in the region particularly in Somalia, thus Ethiopia gained the confidence of the superpowers in their counter terrorism efforts. Ethiopia contributes solders to African Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), also there are another Ethiopia troops in Somalia outside the AMISOM span of control. Elmi remarked that the conflict in Ethiopia will have a direct impact in Somalia as Ethiopia commenced to withdraw some of its troops from Somalia, hence the vacuum emerged will be filled by Al-Shabaab.